Would You Read It Wednesday #374 – Rocky The Christmas Tree Surprise (PB) PLUS The April 2020 and May/September 2020 Pitch Picks

No time like the present for getting around to a task that should have been done 8 months ago! 😊

Due to COVID and the general insanity of 2020 which included various situations I will not burden you with, it appears we’ve wandered into 2021 without doing all of last year’s pitch picks and Straight From The Editors! So this week and next week we will play catch up and you will get to Vote Vote Vote to your hearts’ content!

Let’s start with the April 2020 Pitch Pick, shall we? Please read the 3 pitches in the April group, choose the one you think best and most deserving of a read and comments by editor Erin Molta and vote for it in the April 2020 Pitch Pick Poll below by Sunday January 24 at 9 PM Eastern.

1 – Sandy – Capybara Triplets (PB 4-8)

The rambunctious capybara triplets, Sebastian, Arturo, and Esteban, play and have fun all day.  But when bedtime approaches, they put on the brakes and push for a delay.  The three capybaras use slow-motion, bathroom art, and a closet hideaway to slow the bedtime process.  Although they end up under the covers, they may not stay there as they are determined to investigate what staying-up-fun they might be missing.

2 – Deborah – Sonny’s Smile (PB 3-8)

When Sonny Brightwell is invited to The Gleeful Gala to receive the “Biggest Smile on Earth Award”, he finds that the only place in town to stay is at The Prickly Inn; where smiles aren’t allowed. Being around all of the frowning guests causes Sonny’s smile to droop to the floor and now he must figure out how to get it back in time to receive his award. 

– Elaine – withdrew from consideration

3 – Sierra – The Bug Battle Circus (PB 3-8)

When household pests go head to head in the Bug Battle Circus, which crawly critters will be victorious? You guess! A wild, interactive story comparable to Bob Shea’s Crash, Splash, or Moo! and the Who Would Win? series. Nonfiction backmatter included.

Next we have the Remaining April/Single May/September 2020 Combo Pitch Pick: please read the following 4 pitches, choose the one you think best and most deserving of a read and comments by editor Erin Molta and vote for it in the April/May/September 2020 Pitch Pick Poll below by Sunday January 24 at 9 PM Eastern.

1 – Jennifer – Priya Paints Backwards (PB 4-8)

Priya thinks blank pages are scary and art class is hard; harder for her than everyone else, at least.  When you add in other opinions and constant comparisons, she’s sure she’ll never make a masterpiece.  Then one day, she turns it all around, and finally finds her way.

2 – Deborah – Jack’s Crazy Confection (PB 4-8)

Jack wants to sell his sweet confections, but the dastardly Ice Cream Man has stolen all his customers. Using his great-great-grandmother’s magic ingredient, Jack must cook up something to out-sweet those frozen treats. But a little too much magic ingredient leads to outrageous results.

3 – Lindsey – The Wind Keeper (PB 4-8)

On Jenny’s eighth birthday, Papa tells her that she comes from a long line of Wind Keepers. Together they harness the power of the wind to change the seasons and send kites flying high. But when Papa suddenly passes away, her world becomes still. Jenny must find the strength to overcome her grief and bring the wind back to the valley.

4 – Katie – Winx Thinks. . . Dinosaurs (MG Time Travel Adventure)

Winx Muller dreams of visiting the Mesozoic Era. But he’s going nowhere fast thanks to an ailing sister, busybody great aunt, and missing parents. Then Winx finds a pair of disgusting old socks that sing promises of Time Travel and suddenly the future – and past – seem wide open! Before he can  meet any Mesozoic megafauna, Winx must survive the Time-Space Continuum and the unsettling  evolution of paleontology. Stumbling through fossil-hunting hot spots, Winx gets mucked up in Colonial America, chased by men with explosives in Victorian England, captured by an ancient tracker in the desert Southwest, and half-drowned in British Colonial India. Which is nothing compared to the thunderous dangers he faces in the Mesozoic Era.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and vote!

Phew! After all that voting we definitely need Something Chocolate! Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or milk and let’s get dunking with these delectable Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Mmmmmm!!!!! Scrumptious!!!!! Perfect for breakfast, second breakfast, mid-morning snack, elevenses, lunch, etc… 😊😊😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which is a special one! A WYRI first! – a team effort! The pitch comes to us from Debbie and Sophia.

Debbie: I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old and have always loved creating stories. My other passion is volunteering with my therapy dog, Zoey, who is a Tail Waggin’ Tutor. We have been working in libraries helping children practice their reading for 9 years.

Sophia is a sixth grader in Denver, Colorado and is eleven years old. She has been writing for 3 years and can’t wait to publish her very first book! She writes in the Creative Writing column in her school newspaper, the Sun Devil Scoop. So far, she has published four stories. To read them, you can click the link below.

The two of us have been friends since Sophia was born and we both share a love of reading and writing.


Here is their pitch:

Working Title: Rocky The Christmas Tree Surprise

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-9)

The Pitch: A little owl takes an unexpected trip in the most famous Christmas tree in the world. After getting stranded, she discovers that she is no longer in the peaceful countryside. Alone in New York City, this brave owl finds her way home with the love and help of kind strangers.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Debbie and Sophia improve their pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in March, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Debbie and Sophia are looking forward to your thoughts on their pitch!  I am looking forward to being able to taste those delicious-looking Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chunk cookies and getting out of quarantine someday 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

28 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #374 – Rocky The Christmas Tree Surprise (PB) PLUS The April 2020 and May/September 2020 Pitch Picks

  1. Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf says:

    Hi Debbie and Sophia: I read about this in the newspaper and think it’s a terrific idea for a picture book – it combines a real story, an adventure story and the importance of being kind to animals. For your pitch, I would suggest changing the first line to more precisely pinpoint the issue and make the story conflict more immediate, e.g., “A little owl goes to sleep in a tree in the forest and wakes up to find himself stranded in the tree in the middle of New York City!” or similar. Although a lot of picture book pitches describe the ending, I would omit the ending and leave the reader wondering how Rocky will get home. Best of luck! – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      Thanks Elizabeth for your comments! Our first paragraph in our story actually describes her falling asleep and waking up to find herself in NY City. Will incorporate this and the last line into our pitch!

  2. talararuth says:

    YES. I would read it! Thank you to Debbie and Sophia! I am a native New Yorker, and loved hearing about this true story.

    PS to Sophia- keep on writing!

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      Thank you for you wonderful feedback! I will always be tied into writing. I’ve have been writing for a while and it is now one of my passions. 🙂 -Sophia

  3. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, you’ve outdone yourself with catching up on all of these pitches. I loved reading these revisions and congratulate these authors on the strengthened pitches.

    Debbie and Sophia, I would read this story. I think you can strengthen the pitch, and up the tension, by giving some clues to show readers what Rocky does to overcome her fear of humans to accept their help ultimately (slow breathing, listening to another creature, or whatever it was).

  4. Nadine Poper says:

    As a school librarian, I had the Tail Waggin’ Tutors visit my school a few years back. I’d love for them to return when it is safe for everyone to go back into schools. Thank you for such a wonderful service to our children.
    I would read this, YES. I was intrigued, along with many other people, about this little feathered stowaway.

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      Nadine, I’m so happy you’ve had Tail Waggin’ Tutors in your school! We absolutely love visiting and can’t wait to get back!
      Thanks for your feedback about our little winged friend 🙂 – Debbie & Sophia

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      Owls are absolutely fabulous creatures, but this one is such a miracle! No one knows how she could have survived without food, water, or comfort, but you will get to find out the owl’s point of view in the story! Thank you for your comments! – Sophia & Debbie

  5. palpbkids says:

    Hi Debbie and Sophia, I can’t wait to see this story published! It’s so endearing. Your theme on the goodwill of strangers is so apropos. Consider adding one more layer by bringing attention to the dwindling population of owls. This not only widens your reader appeal/audience, but may be the added hook an agent or editor is looking for.
    And, did Rockefeller fall asleep in the pine tree after it had been cut down? As your pitch stands now, it raises questions on how an owl would remain in the tree as it was being cut down.
    Best Wishes:).

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      We are going to have 1 to 2 pages at the very end of our story where we will talk about Saw Whet owls and the Rockefeller Tree. Rocky fell asleep in the tree and woke up to find herself in NY. We also include the reason that Rocky stays in the tree. Thank you for your marvelous feedback and suggestions! – Sophia & Debbie

  6. Wendy says:

    I think it’s a good subject–unfortunately, it’s SUCH a good subject that I’ve seen three book deals addressing this already announced in PW, so you would need something to set your story apart from the ones that are already in the works.

  7. Writer on the run says:

    I would definitely read this. As I thought about your pitch I was trying to imagine the book- is this a fictionalized story based on a true event, or is this more narrative nonfiction about an actual event? I think it could go either way, but I would personally prefer the latter.

  8. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    I love this story – saw it on the news. I would read it for sure – 100%. I’d love to see what happened to the little owl after the cameras went away. I’m not sure about the second sentence. Rather than saying she’s stranded, maybe she falls asleep or forgets to pay attention, and THEN realizes she’s stranded in the city. Good luck! This is a winner.

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      We are going to change the stranded part to having Rocky fall asleep. Our story will reveal this little owl’s feeling and emotions of all of the overwhelming events that happened in just a few days. Thank you so much! – Sophia & Debbie

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      I love writing so much and I am on my first of many trips to the Publishing World. I can’t wait! Thank you! – Sophia 🙂

      • authorlaurablog says:

        I’m a teacher so my heart was happy to see that Sophia is working on this story! Good job, Debbie for encouraging your daughter. My blog has picture book – MG giveaways and yesterday’s post has a critique giveaway you might want to check out.

  9. matthewlasley says:

    I think this is a great idea. But as mentioned before, so did many other publishing companies who raced one another to publish this story. I would challenge you to read those stories even if just excerpts to see how your story stands against them,

    • Debbie Sexton Lee says:

      We have read a few experts from some other picture books. Thank you for your amazing ideas! – Debbie & Sophia

  10. jeanjames926 says:

    What a great writing duo. As a NY’er of course this story is near and dear to my heart, so much so I used it as an entry in the Holiday Contest, so I am a definite yes! I would read this story. I knew the minute I heard about this owl on the news that Rocky’s story was going to make an amazing children’s book. I wish you both the best of luck on your story.

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